Mark Littlewood, director of the Institute for Economic Affairs, made his remarks in the wake of Boris Johnson’s frank exchange of views with Donald Tusk. Mr Johnson wrote to the European Council President to demand the scrapping of the “anti-democratic” backstop plan for the Irish border – but Mr Tusk responded by saying Mr Johnson needed to offer alternative proposals.
Boris Johnson has been urged to build Britain’s relationship with the EU “from Ground Zero” (Image: GETTY)
Boris Johnson with Emmanuel Macron in Paris (Image: GETTY)
Mr Littlewood said: “It’s difficult to say this without sounding blasé but I’m cautiously optimistic.
“I think no deal is now more likely than not but I don’t think it’s going to be the existential crisis some people have suggested.
“It’s rather more likely that the Government will deal with the backstop and everything else after we leave, in November or December during a free-flowing exchange which follows Brexit.
Boris Johnson is pushing the EU to agree to scrap the backstop proposal (Image: GETTY)
“One might conclude that it is actually easier to rebuild our relationship with the European Union from ground zero, once we leave.
“One of the things which irritates me slightly is this talk of there being ‘no deal’, which is a bit of a misnomer.
“What they actually mean is that there is not a comprehensive deal.
“There are plenty of deals in place already – for example relating to air traffic.
“Planes aren’t going to stop flying after October 31.”
Mr Littlewood said he believed Mr Johnson has “got it about right” when it came to his no-deal preparations.
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Planes will still take off after Brexit, said Mr Littlewood (Image: GETTY)
European Council President Donald Tusk clashed with Mr Johnson earlier this week (Image: GETTY)
He said: “It would have been better if this had all got underway sooner but now no-deal preparations are in full swing.
“In fact, private companies have been preparing for a long while now – it’s the public companies which are dragging their feet here.
“Like with anything, we need to prepare for the best and expect the worst.
The question of the Irish border is central to Brexit (Image: GETTY)
“This is about being optimistic without being cavalier.
“We don’t want to say nothing is going to go wrong but I think it’s important to dial down this sense of the impending apocalypse.”
Mr Littlewood cited Czechoslovakia’s split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and the break-up of the Soviet Union, as examples of major political upheavals which had been managed with relatively little disruption, adding: “Obviously Britain’s departure from the EU is nowhere near comparable in terms of scale to that.”
A timeline shows the next events in the Brexit process (Image: GETTY)
He also mentioned then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s decision to abolish the Greater London Council in the 1980s, adding: “There were all these scare stories about how London would grind to a halt and how the tubes would stop running.
“Of course, none of it actually happened.”
The leaking of Operation Yellowhammer was a “case in point”, Mr Littlewood added, saying all the document had actual done was set out the worst case scenarios, rather than saying they were actually likely to happen.